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Story of John Sung’s Father: Bebrith and Victory Over Ministry Struggles

Story of John Sung’s Father: Bebrith and Victory Over Ministry Struggles

A historical photo of Dr. John Sung Shang Chieh, a revivalist and evangelist A historical photo of Dr. John Sung Shang Chieh, a revivalist and evangelist
ByYuan Xiangzhong November 30, 2021
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Rev. S. L. Sung (or Sung Xuelian), the father of Dr. John Sung Shang Chieh who was a renowned evangelist known as the "Wesley of China", was a pastor of a Wesleyan Methodist church in Putian, Fujian. John Sung was called "little pastor" when he was young, as he acted as a temporary deacon and shared in his father’s church affairs.

When Rev. Sung (John’s father) was 16 years old, he went to Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province, to study theology for three years. In the first two years, he just studied with the class according to the course schedule. He was mechanically in pursuit of scores without enthusiasm to know Jesus Christ. So, he spent two years in the seminary in a muddle.

In the second semester of the last year, he realized he was a sinner due to the illumination of the Holy Spirit when he studied the Gospel of John and Romans.

There was no peace in his heart, as he couldn’t get rid of sin. In desperation, he cried to God. Getting up early in the morning every day, before other people got up, he went to the wilderness to pray and read the scriptures. At night, he couldn’t fall asleep, so he asked the Lord for happiness and peace.

One day at dawn, he confessed all the sins of his life before the Lord. This time, he received the Holy Spirit when he was eighteen, which was a turning point in his life.

After graduating from the seminary, he returned to his hometown - Fengji Village in Putian, Fujian, beginning his preaching ministry for five or six years.

Then, it was time for him to get married when he was twenty-five years old. The bride was a rich young lady from a Buddhist family, as they were betrothed when they were still in the womb by parents of both parties following the old custom.

He often taught her to read and write in the evening after he preached in the countryside. His pagan wife was moved by the Holy Spirit and was soon baptized.

Within a year after their marriage, John Sung’s eldest sister and eldest brother were born one after another. The load on the father’s back got heavier, as his salary was only five or six yuan a month which was not enough for the family of four, though the cost of living was low at that time.

One night, he couldn't fall asleep until midnight, as a voice in his head said, "How could I, a well-educated man, live a life that I was never sure for my next meal? Can I not survive if I give up the job as a pastor?"

He was determined to quit his ministry in the poor countryside, and to move to the city to work as a newspaper journalist, or a teacher in a foreign school.

However, after following the work of the devil, the Holy Spirit spoke to him, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) and the lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalms 34:10)"

This spiritual battle lasted from the middle of the night to the dawn. He clearly heard the voice from heaven, "Don't be afraid, my servant. I’m here and know all you need."

From then on, he gave in his resignation and preached the gospel again. The church where he served had always only 200 members, but the next year there were five or six hundred believers and in the third year more than a thousand churchgoers.

As he was good at writing, he was invited to edit for a regular publication called Revival Magazine, which was popular throughout Fujian. Also inheriting him, John Sung learned to keep a diary and formed a daily writing habit. 

 (This article is provided by a 93-year-old elder of the Church of the True God, Fenghua District, Ningbo, Zhejiang and is originally published by Gospel Times.)

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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